According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, nearly 70% of adults between the ages of 35 and 44 have lost at least one tooth. The primary causes of tooth loss in adult Americans include gum disease, tooth decay, and accidental injury. People tend to seek immediate treatment for teeth missing from the front of the mouth because they don’t want that gap to spoil their smile. Replacing missing back teeth generally doesn’t seem as imperative because these gaps don’t significantly alter a person’s appearance. Unfortunately, failing to replace any missing tooth can lead to significant health issues, including TMJ disorders.
The TMJs and TMJ Disorders
The TMJs, or temporomandibular joints, refer to the jaw joints located on either side of your face, between the top of the cheekbone and the ear. Within these joints, a flexible disc of cartilage allows the jaw to open and glide forward smoothly. This movement helps you perform everyday functions like eating, talking, and yawning. When the disc of cartilage becomes displaced, the bones of the TMJs make contact, resulting in some of the many symptoms typical of disordered TMJ function, including:
- Facial and jaw pain
- Clicking and popping of the jaw when you talk, chew, or yawn
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
The Missing Tooth-TMJ Disorder Connection
Failing to replace a missing tooth encourages the neighboring teeth to drift toward that empty space. As your teeth drift, their alignment changes. This misalignment forces the TMJs and the facial muscles to overcompensate for the bad bite. The extra stress on the TMJs can wear down or displace the cartilage disc, leading to TMJ disorder and its attendant symptoms.
What Can You Do to Avoid TMJ Disorders?
The best action you can take is to immediately seek tooth replacement. A skilled general and cosmetic dentist like Dr. Fondriest can offer several solutions for filling in this gap. For some patients, a fixed bridge, comprised of a false tooth held in place by two crowns affixed to the neighboring teeth, may work. For patients seeking a more stable solution, dental implants, which Dr. Fondriest literally implants into the jaw bone creating a secure base for a natural-looking crown, may work better.
If you have a missing tooth and want to avoid problems with your TMJs , call Dr. Fondriest immediately for a consultation. A 60045 cosmetic dentist, Dr. Fondriest proudly offers general and cosmetic dentistry services to patients from the North Shore suburbs near Chicago.
Dr Fondriest is a Nationally recognized and highly sought after cosmetic dentist serving clients from throughout the United States